How long have you been competing in Agility?
I have been competing in Agility for 20 years. I got my first dog when I was 11 years old and started out in Agility in the junior Agility classes.
When did you start judging and why did you decide to start?
I started judging when I was 16 years old, at Shrewsbury and District Dog Training Club’s annual competition. I had a range of judges that I always looked up to. I found course designing to be something that I was quite passionate about.
How do you prepare for an event like Olympia?
Course design is the fundamental part to preparing for an event like Olympia. Creating a range of courses that test the dogs and handlers and that are remembered has to be my favourite part. In previous years the courses have always been remembered by the competitors, I hope that mine will be as well. Whenever I am creating a course design I always make sure it is iconic and that it will represent my values and beliefs in agility.
What is the most challenging aspect of judging an event like Olympia?
Building courses in a short time frame and making sure that critical areas on the course are correct. The size of the equipment does change the line for the dog and handler which you have to consider when designing the courses.
What would be your top 5 tips for someone starting in agility?
- Research Clubs in your area and make sure they are Kennel Club approved clubs. A Kennel Club Agility Club always offers experienced and knowledgeable instructors.
- Look online to find a range of information on Agility. Looking at YouTube videos and footage from Crufts will provide you with an insight into what to expect. You will also be able to familiarise yourself with equipment and how your dog will perform on this.
- Always encourage and play with your dog.
- Basic Obedience skills with your dog will help you and your dog get into the working mindset before training on Agility equipment.
- Your dog’s diet. With this being a high energy and active discipline, the dog needs to have a good diet, by being fed the right dog food, as well as having overall fitness as your dog will be working harder than it normally does.
What was your most memorable part about the day?
The adrenaline rush of actually judging and showcasing agility to its best. Felt immense pride of judging some of the best dogs and handlers in Britain at one of the most iconic agility competitions in the world. I would like to thank the organisers, my ring party, the sponsors, Skinners and especially Dave Ray. Couldn't do it without them. I would also like to congratulate all the competitors.